Johan Conradie | | Art in South Africa
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Artist Statement

Working in various media ranging from oil painting, digital photography to embroidery, Johan Conradie's highly complex visual surfaces of mostly Flamboyant Gothic architectural elements and 'baroque' sensibilities, merge the three dimensional-space of digital photography with that of hand-stitched embroidery. His digital-generated prints on paper meet direct traces of the artist's hand through his meticulously hand-stitched embroidery. In the age of digital revolution the artist questions the concept of reality and what is it worth on its own. This is reflected in both his painting and his digitally engendered worlds.

Executed with doubts - fuelled by the modern experience of reality, these works gleam with a 'baroque' intensity that occupies a liminal zone, somewhere between digital space and that of material surface splendour. The works engage masculinity and femininity, the ornamental and the conceptual, tradition and technology, mimicry and invention, and abstraction and representation. Ultimately, his work fuses two conceptually gendered worlds, exploiting the tensions between the digital print on paper and that of actual stitching through the photographic print. The ambiguity of passageways and transitional spaces are used to construct an aesthetic of anticipation. The immaterial, allusive details offer only a framework of associations, signifying states of change and loss.

In the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, humankind’s memories have become essentially photographic. Seldom can clear distinctions be made between those memories based on direct experience and those that are mechanically mediated. Our recollections are increasingly supplemented, shaped, structured and recomposed by the internet, photography and film. The desire to suspend a moment in time is, for the artist, really about guarding against loss.

The works documented share issues of beauty, nostalgia, loss and absence. Images of a ghostly dark counter-world, eerily silent and strangely empty, predominate. In these images, beauty, ruin and spirituality freely overlap.